A very helpful Blue Note labelography

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by sungshinla, Aug 29, 2006.

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  1. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict Thread Starter

    I have been a Blue Note vinyl collector for many years and, although not perfect, the following is about as good as any labelography I have seen:


    I am not sure whether I can copy the content here, but I will do so anyway, especially since visiting the website above would show the same content:



    Blue Note. Unquestionably, the most famous and most collectible jazz records, Blue Notes are the grail of jazz afficionados. What was remarkable about Blue Note is that from the dawn of the LP era through the mid-1960's, Blue Note released approximately 350 albums of consistently high quality, both musically and sonically, including some of the landmark albums of modern jazz. Blue Note releases defined at least two of the most creative schools in modern jazz, hard-bop through albums by Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Sonny Clark, Hank Mobley and others, and "Miles Davis modernism," as found on albums by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Tony Williams, etc. Blue Note recording sessions were typically of small jazz groups, quartets and quintets by far the most favored, with one or two horns. There are lesser numbers of piano trios, some sextets, a smattering of large ensembles, along with some dates with oddball instrumentations. There are no solo or duet recordings, and only two albums of vocalists (see below). Sonically, there was a consistency of sound of Blue Notes which, while perhaps never of "super disk" status, never detracted from the music, and often enhanced its impact and cogency. The Blue Note "sound" is often attributed to the engineering of Rudy Van Gelder, and this is certainly true to an extent. But if one compares Van Gelder recordings on other labels (cf. Impulse!), it becomes apparent that the main sonic sensibility is that of Alfred Lion, the founder of Blue Note, and its owner and guiding force for most of what one thinks of as the Blue Note years. Clearly Van Gelder bent to the sound Lion wanted in a way that he did not for other producers, and the results show.

    There have been many, many issues of Blue Note recordings on LP, and my purpose here is to survey as many as I have been able to discern on the basis of my own collection of Blue Notes. My LP collection currently numbers about 200 titles, out of about 350 titles of interest. (After about 1966, Blue Note releases became very spotty, with releases of little musical worth interspersed with superlative recordings. This reflected the waning influence of Alfred Lion, who sold the label around this time.) There is a bias in my collection, which I freely admit - I have virtually none of the "funk" Blue Note releases, by artist such as Stanley Turrentine, Jimmy Smith, Lou Donaldson, etc. With this caveat, my collection represents, I think, a pretty good sampling the golden era of Blue Note.

    First, a little background. There were three series of Blue Note LP releases. The first is known as the "1200" series, which consists of 8 records by either Sidney Bechet or George Lewis, reissuing earlier 78 and 10 inch releases. The second, known as the "1500" series, commenced in 1955, with catalogue numbers starting at 1501, and running through 1600, released in 1958. The early releases in this series are reissues of earliier 10" releases primarily from the early 50's, including records by Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Bud Powell and others. The 4000 series starts with 4001 ("Newk's Time" by Sonny Rollins, released in mono in 1958, stereo, 1959, the year of the first Blue Note stereo releases), and peters out about 400 releases later, (although as noted things get very spotty after around 4250). The first number with a stereo release was 1562 - "The Stylings of Silver" by Horace Silver, although it was not released until two years after the initial 1957 mono release. There are stereo releases of all subsequent records, except for Sonny Rollins' "A Night at the Village Vanguard" (1582), although some of these only became available in the context of later reissue series. (For example, the stereo release of Johnny Griffin's "The Congregation" first appeared in 1994 as part of the Connoisseur series.) 1500 series stereo releases have the same catalogue numbers as their mono counterparts; in the 4000 series, stereo releases have an 8 prefixed (e.g. the stereo release of the aforementioned "Newk's Time" is 84001). (In referring to records in this series, I will use the 4000 number, although all of these I own, save one, are stereo.) There are "electronically rechanneled stereo" releases, dating from the 60's and 70's of mono-only recordings. Some of these, however, are in fact just the monos; check the inner margin, and see if there is the mono catalogue number engraved (i.e. without a prefixed 8). There are also two issues from 1962 on the 9000 series of vocal releases, 9001 "My Hour of Need" by Dodo Greene and 9002 "Portrait of Sheila" by Sheila Jordan.

    Among "serious" Blue Note collectors, there are two sorts of records which are in highest demand - monos and "deep grooves." The former is self-explanatory; the latter are records in which there is a concentric groove in the label, about two-thirds of the way from the center hole. Price wise, for original pressings in excellent condition, mono/deep grooves are usually the most expensive, more expensive than stereo releases, and stereo/deep grooves are more expensive than stereo/non-deep groove. (I myself am a stereo guy, so where there is a stereo release, I will have that rather than the mono. I guess this means that I am not a sufficiently serious collector.) Speaking of prices, mint condition original pressing Blue Notes now commonly fetch prices starting at $100 and go up from there, depending in part upon rarity. Even Japanese reissues, in general the ones in the most demand, are starting to climb into the $70 - $80 range for rare titles. This is not to say that there aren't bargains to be had - I recently found a deep groove/mono of Horace Silver's "6 Pieces of Silver" (1539) for $15. But aside from such luck, there currently are ways to obtain a reasonably nice collection of Blue Notes for reasonable prices - see below.

    Sonically, in my experience the best sounding Blue Notes are original pressings. However, most reissues sound very good, including the recent Capitol Connoisseur and "top ten" reissue series. In fact, Van Gelder mastered reissues sound almost as good as original pressings, and herein lies the big secret about Blue Note collecting - many reissues are in fact Van Gelder masterings, including a goodly number of the "blue label" reissues done in the 70's. This can be determined by looking for the Van Gelder imprint on the inner margin of the record. The blue label reissues usually can be found quite reasonably priced, in the $15 range, and are well worth the money. I personally do not pass on any reasonably priced blue label if I want the title, regardless of whether it is a Van Gelder. Of course, if it is, I feel very lucky indeed. The worst sounding Blue Notes are undoubtedly the French EMI DMM and Capitol/EMI reissues of the 80's. These tend to be thin and harsh sounding, with reduction of the sound stage, especially in depth. (By the way, early Blue Note stereos do not suffer from the "hole in the middle" effect found on other labels, most notoriously on many Stereo/Contemporary and Atlantic releases - have a listen, for example, to Coltrane's "My Favorite Things." Blue Notes usually have a well-balanced sound stage.) For those currently starting a Blue Note collection, or seeking to increase their holdings, I would suggest buying the current top ten release, which are a real bargain; I've seen them as cheap as $12.99. I would also pick up Connoisseur titles, blue labels, and some Japanese reissues.

    Now, onto what is out there in terms of issuings of Blue Notes. The first breakdown has to do with who owned the catalogue at the time of the issue of the record. First are releases on the "real"Blue Note of Alfred Lion, which is all of the 1500 series, and through number 4252 (Duke Pearson "Sweet Honey Bee"). At that point, in 1966, the company was sold to Liberty Records, which issued new titles, and reissued most of the catalogue. Subsequently, the catalogue became the property of United Artists, (1970) and then Capitol/EMI, the current owners, in the 1980's. Control of access to the vaults currently appears to reside in the hands of two people, Bob Belden and Michael Cuscuna. I am not aware of the storage location of the original master tapes.

    Here is the list of issues of Blue Notes, all of which are attested within my collection:

    1. Original Pressings, Alfred Lion era. These may be discerned from the jacket by the catalogue number appearing on the back in large, bold block letters; the label is the classic Blue Note blue and white. Albums numbered 1200, and 1501 through 1543 say Blue Note Records 767 Lexington Ave NYC in script letters, written in an arc inside the (deep) groove along the top of the label. The remainder of the 1500 series, and the 4000 series through 4074 carry the address 47 West 63rdStreet, written in block majuscules, and there is an address on West 61stStreet on records numbered up to 4100. All releases thereafter simply say New York, USA. Original stereo releases of previously released monos circa 1959 usually did not have new jackets; rather, they carried a gold sticker saying Stereo. When monos and stereos were released simultaneously, they are numbered accordingly on the jacket. To my knowledge, all of these records are Van Gelder masterings, which can be recognized either by RVG or VAN GELDER engraved in the inner record margin. (I say to my knowledge because I have never seen an original pressing of an early 1500 which reissues an earlier 10 inch to see whether they are Van Gelder's. I do have records which were originally recorded for the 1500 series, and these are Van Gelder masterings.)

    2. First Reissues. These are reissues of original Lexington/63rdStreet./61st Street releases with New York, USA labels. They are all Van Gelder's (modulo the proviso above). I have Art Blakey's "Moanin" on both an original 63rdStreet and a New York, USA; they are sonically virtually indistinguishable. (It might perhaps be more appropriate to refer to these are "repressings" rather than "reissues," but for generality I am using a change in the label as criterial for a reissue.)

    3. Original Pressing, Division of Liberty. Releases starting in 1966, with the sale of Blue Note to Liberty; the first number with this label is 4253. The labels are the same as before, except that the address is deleted, replaced by "A Division of Liberty Records". Division of Liberty jackets have the catalogue number in small print, as opposed to the large print of original issues, (although I do have Division of Liberty records in original jackets). Those I have are Van Gelder mastering. Musically, these records are very spotty, although there are some gems, e.g. Cecil Taylor's "Conquistador" and McCoy Tyner's "The Real McCoy." The absence of Alfred Lion is dearly felt, however.

    4. Division of Liberty Reissues, Van Gelder Masterings. Reissues with Division of Liberty labels, Van Gelder mastering.

    5. Division of Liberty Reissues. As in 4, but with no distinctive mastering marks; i.e. with only the catalogue number engraved in the margin. While I would presume that these were released after those in 4, I do not know the relative chronology. All of the records I have under categories 4 and 5 are in the 4000 series. I don't know whether there were no Division of Liberty reissues of the 1500 series, or this is just a gap in my collection. I also do not have any titles in both Van Gelder and non-Van Gelder masterings; again, this may be a gap in my collection.

    6. Division of United Artists Reissues,Van Gelder Masterings. Reissues with labels in which the address is replaced by AA Division of United Artists Records, Inc.@Van Gelder mastering. I have only one of these, Joyride by Stanley Turrentine (4201). I don=t know how many titles were issued with this label.

    7. Division of United Artists Reissues. As in 6, but with a small UA mastering mark in the margin. All of these which I have are in the 1500 series, including Johnny Griffin's "The Congregation" (1580), with its famous Andy Warhol cover, and Horace Silver's "Further Explorations by the Horace Silver Quartet" (1589), a top-notch Blue Note, musically and sonically.

    8. Liberty UA Original Pressings. The last of the Blue Notes before they went moribund. These date from around 1970, and have a radically different label - black, a blue slice on the left, with a box with a modification of the Blue Note logo on the left side. At the bottom of the label it says "Liberty UA, Inc., Los Angeles, California". On the reverse of the jacket, lower right hand corner, it says "Blue Note Records", underneath which is written in fine print, "Entertainment from Transamerica Corporation". I have two of these, McCoy Tyner'ss "Expansions" (4338) and Ornette Coleman's "Love Call"; both are Van Gelder mastering.

    9. Liberty UAReissues. Same label as described in 8; Van Gelder mastering. Again I have two, both in Division of Liberty jackets - Dexter Gordon "Gettin' Around" (4204) and Jackie McClean's "Action, Action, Action" (4218).

    10. Blue label, White "b" Reissues, Van Gelder Masterings. These were released in the 70's by United Artists. The labels are blue, with a stylized white lower case "b" containing a blue note logo in the upper right hand corner. Jackets are Division of Liberty jackets. Van Gelder mastering. Interestingly, the Van Gelder engravings on these records appear to match those of the original pressings. My copy of Horace Silver's "Blowin' the Blues Away," for instance, is engraved RVG, usually only found in earlier Van Gelder pressings.

    11. Blue label, Black "b" Reissues, Van Gelder Masterings. As in 11, except that the "b" on the label is black, not white. I don't know whether black or white "b" labels are the earlier pressings. All Van Gelder masterings on either label are in the 4000 series; there are no 1500 series Van Gelder's in these reissues. I have 25 or 30 blue label Van Gelder's, including some of my favorite Blue Notes. These are the great bargains in Blue Notes, often sonically in the class of the originals; if they have a fault it is with the thinner vinyl used compared to original pressings.

    12. Blue label, White "b" Reissues. As in 10, but not Van Gelder masterings. Found for both 1500 and 4000 series. Sonically not as good as the Van Gelder's, but should not be passed up if the price is right. Again, I am not sure of the relative chronology of the Van Gelder and non-Van Gelders, nor whether there were any titles released with both masterings., as this is not attested in my collection.

    13. Blue label, Black "b" Reissues. As in 12, but with black "b"on label.

    14. Blue Note Reissue Series. In the mid-70's, United Artists released a series of twofers called the Blue Note reissue series, (although not all of the material contained was originally released on Blue Note). These sport a variant of the blue, white "b" label marked "The Blue Note Reissue Series" There are some excellent sets in this series, and most can be had for a pittance. Especially recommended are Thelonious Monk's "The Complete Genius," which has the released takes of all of Monk's famous Blue Note recordings of the late 40's and 50's, Sonny Rollins "More from the Village Vanguard," the companion to Rollins' "A Night at the Village Vanguard," and Herbie Nichols' "The Third World." This series marks the entry into the world of Blue Note reissues of Charlie Lourie and Michael Cuscuna, later of Mosaic fame. See below.

    15. United Artists Twofer. This is a twofer containing the two Miles Davis records, 1501 and 1502. It is dated 1971, and has United Artists labels of the period. I have no idea whether there are any other comparable reissues.

    16. Japanese Reissues, King Records. When United Artists owned the Blue Note catalogue, King Records reissued Blue Notes in Japan. From my collection, I have been able to discern three different reissue series; all sport facsimiles of the original labels, with the appropriate address. (i) The first series, done in 1977/78, reissued 150 titles. They carry a King catalogue number in the lower left corner, starting with GXK and then 4 digits. (ii) A series dated 1983, without the marking in the lower left hand corner. (iii) Blue Note Masterpiece. I own one of these, Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage. These records endeavor to be exact replicas of the original pressings, including jacket, label and even inner sleeve. The only indication of its origin is an enclosed card in Japanese, dated March, 1983. I do not know how many records there are in this series; what I do know is that this is, sonically, probably the best sounding Blue Note I own, including original pressings. No other recording conveys the magic the way this one does. (In general, King's have better sound than Toshiba's, which tend to be a bit on the bright side by comparison, although usually not annoyingly so.)

    17. Japanese Reissues, Toshiba/EMI. With the passing of the Blue Note catalogue to Capitol/EMI, Japanese reissues were turned over to their Japanese affiliate, Toshiba, who have had at least five different reissue series. All have facsimile labels, with New York, USA address. (i) 1500 series reissues, released in 1990/91. (ii) 4000 series reissues, released in 1991/92. (iii) Another issue of 1500 series records in 1994. I don't know if there is overlap with (i). (iv) A series, which I cannot date, called "The Hits of Blue Note." (v) Gone Global: DJ's Choice series, released in 1993. (This last series has taken some flak among collectors for having less good sound than previous reissues.) There may also be other Toshiba reissues series; I understand, for instance, that there is a series of mono releases of records which have stereo versions - all reissue series, Japanese and U.S. have reissued stereo versions were available.

    18. French Reissues, Pathe Marconi. A reissue series done in 1983 by the French EMI affiliate. Given the dating of the King reissues, this is probably the first reissues done when the tapes passed into the hands of EMI. Easily identified by the Pathe Marconi logo on the bottom middle of the back of the jacket. Sealed they have a banner around the jacket. These were fairly widely distributed in the U.S., and are still relatively easy to come by, but some unknowledgeable retailers will try to get premium prices (in the $30 range), thinking them comparable to Japanese reissues, to which sonically they are far inferior. I have only two; Dexter Gordon's "A Swingin Affair" (4133) and Art Blakey's "A Night in Tunisia" (4049). The jackets have 61stStreet addresses, but the facsimile labels have the 63rdStreet address.

    19. Manhattan Records, Division of Capitol, French reissues. This was the first major U.S. distributed reissue of Blue Notes since the mid-70's, undertaken in 1984. The records were made by EMI France, and are all DMM. They came in an inner sleeve printed with "The Blue Note Story," an essay about Blue Note by Michael Cuscuna, and some came with a giant circular poster, depicting the Blue Note label on one side, and a collage sort of picture on the other with sketch drawings of musicians who have recorded on Blue Note. There is at least one title in this series, Freddie Hubbard's Here to Stay (4135), which sort of counts as a original pressing, in that it was originally unreleased, and appears in this series for the first time with the originally intended art work. (Unfortunately, it is marked with the evil "digitally remastered.") Sonically, these are among the worst Blue Notes, (save those in 20), with all the ills one would expect with DMM mastering. Acquire only if cheap, and you really want the music.

    20. Capitol/EMI reissues. These date from 1986 through 1988; manufactured in the U.S. All are marked as done from digital transfers, some are also marked as DMM, and some bear the name of Michael Cuscuna as reissue producer. That should be enough to give you a picture of what these sound like. There are some "original issues" here too, in the sense mentioned in 19, e.g. Stanley Turrentine's "Jubilee Shout" (4122).

    21. Jazz Heritage. Late 80's releases sold through Jazz Heritage, the jazz wing of the Musical Heritage Society. Marked as Manufactured by Jazz Heritage under license from Capitol, they bear Musical Heritage engravings on the record margin. Done from digital masters. Covers are horrible black and white facsimiles of the original covers. While I own some truly great sounding records from Musical Heritage, these certainly aren't them.

    22. Mosaic.Mosaic have done their completist treatment on a number of Blue Notes, including recordings by Tina Brooks, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith, Larry Young, Jackie McClean, Grant Green, Sonny Clark, Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons (from the Blue Note 78 era), etc. These are all thematically organized - e.g. the complete recordings of the 1960 edition of the Jazz Messengers, and usually contain both released and out take material, arranged in order of recording (rather than order of release on record). Probably the two most popular of these box sets have been the Monk and the Tina Brooks. I have mixed feelings about Mosaic, a venture of Michael Cuscuna and Charles Lourie. I certainly appreciate the sense of history and documentation brought to these projects, and in that sense they are invaluable. But as a listener, they can be very exhausting - do you really want to hear all the mistakes, false starts, lousy takes, etc in one sitting? Also, I for one, have never been impressed with Michael Cuscuna's sonic sensibilities, and the cases, including Blue Notes, in which I have compared an original pressing to a Cuscuna reissue, the later is usually inferior. Mosaic boxes new involve a sizable cash outlay, but are not unreasonably priced - $15 per LP, but with 6 to 10 records per set, this adds up. They are done in limited edition, and when sold out command high prices.

    23. Connoisseur Series. Released by Capitol, this series dates from 1994/95, consisting of about 25 releases. This series focused on less well-known albums, including a number of very late releases of high musical quality. There are some real gems in this series - a couple of favorites are Pete LaRoca's "Basra" and Grant Green's Green Street. As for sonics, to quote from a sticker attached to the shrink wrap: "limited edition," "audiophile pressing," "180g virgin vinyl HQ-180," "mastered from the original analog source." For all that, they sound pretty good, if somewhat less dimensional than original pressings (tape degeneration?) An annoying property of this series is that they did not use the original catalogue numbers. The series has been discontinued, apparently because of poor sales (the vinyl releases were a subset of the CD releases in this series). These are still fairly easily found, should cost in the $15 to $18 range, and are certainly recommended.

    24. "Top ten" reissue series. Currently in release. Apparently thinking they made a mistake in being too obscure with the Connoisseur series, Capitol has released a series of ten albums which count as Blue Note all time greats: Coltrane - Blue Train, Blakey - Moanin', Cannonball Adderly - Somethin' Else, Dexter Gordon - Go, Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil, Hank Mobley - Soul Station, Sonny Rollins - Volume 2, Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage, Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder, Horace Silver - Song for My Father. Great albums, right price, ($15 plus or minus a buck or two), excellent sonics, at least for the U.S. pressings I have. These were done both in the U.S. and the U.K. I have the U.K. of the Wayne Shorter, and it is not as good sonically as my blue label of this issue, having a rather strident top end. On the other hand, the U.S. Hank Mobley was a revelation - a really beautiful job. All done on 180 gram vinyl.

    25. Classic Records Reissues. Currently in release. Classic records, after their success with reissues of jazz on Verve, RCA and Columbia/Epic, have started doing Blue Notes. I believe they have done about six issues at this time. Thus far I have picked up only one, Sonny Clark's "Cool Struttin". Sonics are excellent, with the sort of detailed presentation that has become the hallmark of Classic's reissues. (Some find Classics over detailed, at the expenses of musical naturalness. Personally, I find their Verves and Columbias to be substantially better than the originals, while their RCAs are not as satisfying as the originals.) Prices are high, $25 to $30, but packaging and attention to detail are at a high level.

    The following is not attested in my collection; thanks to Tony Santos for providing the information:

    26. Applause reissues: Reissues under license in the mid and late 70's of sessions from the early 60's through early 70's. The jackets are usually yellow, with the front displaying simplified copies of the original artwork, usually in a one or two color approximation, with a yellow border or background. The back has original liner notes with black lettering on the yellow jacket, with a "licensed by United Artists" notation. They have Van Gelder engravings.

    27. CD releases. Just to complete the story. There are Capitol/EMIs starting in the mid-80s, Japanese, Connoisseurs, enhanced (Coltrane's Blue Train), and others I imagine. Great for the car and the computer.

    So, if we include all seven Japanese reissue series, this makes 31 different issues of Blue Notes. All in all, aside from the mid-80's DMM/digital releases, given the number of times the tape machines have run on Blue Notes, sonic quality is high, and most of the reissues will repay for the investment in musical enjoyment.

    To finish this, here is a list of ten of my personal Blue Note favorites, (I've excluded the top ten listed in 24 - they would be Blue Note favorites for any jazz fan), and a couple of books which are invaluable for Blue Note collectors:

    Grant Green - Idle Moments (4154)
    Dexter Gordon - One Flight Up (4177)
    Bobby Hutcherson - Happenings (4231)
    Pete LaRoca - Basra (4205)
    Donald Byrd - Fuego (4026)
    Cecil Taylor - Conquistador (4260)
    Jackie McClean - Let Freedom Ring (4106)
    Kenny Burrell - Midnight Blue (4123)
    Lee Morgan - Search for the New Land (4169)
    Herbie Hancock - Empyrean Isles (4175)

    The Complete Blue Note Book. Published in Japan in 1987, it contains a complete list, with a picture of the cover and list of artists and tunes (in English) of every Blue Note release. Text mostly in Japanese. (Available for music direct.)

    Goldmine's Price Guide to Collectible Jazz Albums 1949 - 1969. Invaluable. The collector's bible.

    There is also the Michael Cuscuna Blue Note discography, available from Mosaic.

    As I mentioned, the information I've compiled comes from my collection; I would be grateful to hear of anything I've missed or am mistaken about, so that this listing can be updated so as to be as accurate as possible.


    Over the past year, as I've searched through myriads of dusty record bins, I've been fortunate enough to see and acquire a considerable number of new Blue Notes for my collection. This has provided for some information to update my Blue Note labelography that appeared in Primyl Vinyl, clarifying a couple of matters that I was unable to speak about definitively then.

    At that time, I remarked that I did not know whether original 1200 series and early 1500 series records that reissued earlier 10 inch releases were Van Gelder pressings. I can now say that those in the earlier 1200 series were, based on my finding an original Lexington Avenue label of catalogue number 1203, Sidney Bechet "Giant of Jazz" engraved RVG. I have also acquired a copy of number 1501, Miles Davis, Volume 1 that is something of an oddity, having a Lexington Avenue address on side 1 and a West 63rdStreet address on side 2. Both sides are RVG engraved. Although the latter label indicates that the record was pressed around 1959, it is still indicative that early 1500 original pressings were also Van Gelders.

    I also stated that I had not seen any 1500 series reissues with Van Gelder engravings, and I speculated that this might be a gap in my collection. Indeed it was. I now have a New York, NY label reissue of 1554, Art Blakey, "Orgy in Rhythm, Vol. 1" with the RVG engraving, as well as a Division of Liberty stereo reissue of 1593, Lou Donaldson, "Blues Walk," (mono original jacket with a small, oval "stereo" sticker). I have also seen a Division of Liberty of 1558, Sonny Rollins, "Volume 2," with RVG engraving.

    And speaking of "Orgy in Rhythm," I have to move back the earliest stereo Blue Note as well, as I have acquired an RVG Stereo engraved copy of this record with a 47 W. 63rdStreet label, the jacket bearing the gold Stereo sticker characteristic of original stereo issues in 1959 of titles released earlier in mono. (This album was recorded on March 7, 1957.) Whether there were any other stereo releases between 1554 and 1562 (Horace Silver's "The Stylings of Silver") remains an open question - is there a stereo release of 1555, "Orgy in Rhythm, Vol. 2"?
    jasonsouza77 and MisterBritt like this.
  2. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict Thread Starter

    Also, the following website shows some pictures of the labels (although this website is less than 100% accurate/complete). At least you will get a decent idea of what the labels will look like:

    jasonsouza77 likes this.
  3. mtodde

    mtodde New Member

    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks. This is very helpful.
  4. OE3

    OE3 Forum Resident

    awesome. thanks, sung! :)
  5. OE3

    OE3 Forum Resident

    this is true. in fact, just yesterday i found a McCoy Tyner The Real McCoy on the black and blue label variation listed above, with 'Van Gelder' stamped in the dead wax, and it has amazing sound. i can't imagine an original being too much better than this!
  6. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict Thread Starter

    Thanks, David. That link is pretty good. Again, not 100% accurate/complete but that should be more than enough even for a moderately serious collector.

    As far as the Japanese Toshiba/EMI reissues, the sound is a bit solid-state (less warmth than the Kings) and the cymbal sound is the most indicative of that. These, IMHO, are still more preferable to all other reissues, including the Classic. Even Bernie Grundman cannot overcome the aging of the tapes, and his tendency to make the pressing very detailed makes the cymbals sound tinny, thin and grainy.
    jasonsouza77 likes this.
  7. CybrKhatru

    CybrKhatru Music is life.

    Los Angeles

    Thank you very much for posting this. I'll be studying my BN pressings today!

  8. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict Thread Starter

    Hi, Matt. We can talk BN at the Buena Park show. :righton:

    Also, I forget whether I saw it mentioned on the link that David posted regarding the Japanese King pressings, but there is a Japanese King pressing that is by far the most "must have" and everyone interested in Jazz vinyl should look for it.

    It is the very first release in Japan of TINA BROOKS, "Back to the Tracks" LP, which was not released in the US although there was a cat. no. reserved for it. The story goes that some of these were actually pressed (test pressings?) but the covers were never made (although the photo that was to be used was in the vaults). When Japan King released this, it is my understanding that that was the very first time that the record was first "commercially" released. I use that term "commercially" very loosely since they were only available for those people who would send in a proof of purchase for some number of the Japanese King blue notes (and I think it was a "bonus" LP for those faithful customers). I understand that most of these were sent to record dealers, as they are the ones who mostly sent in the request for this bonus LP. Regardless of what the story is, this is considered by many as the first pressing of this record (as I have never seen or heard of anyone having the unreleased US original), and is one of the truly rare Japanese King. I have once seen this copy but the price was too high for me. I only have a test pressing of the Classic reissue version (which I am sure is also very rare but the sonics, I think, will be less desirable than the Japanese King).

    Another couple of King-first releases that I would most highly recommend are: Grant Green, Matador (the most wonderful Jazz recording of "My Favorite Things" IMHO); and Tommy Flanagan, Lonely Town (a piano trio). I would also highly recommend: Grant Green, Solid (great music and sonics; the Capitol reissue on Connoisseur is pretty good but the King is amazing); Grant Green, Nigeria (great music and sonics; this just kills the US two-fer of the 70's).

    BTW, the ones that I am recommending will go for more than twice the normal price for a normal Japanese King. You should just treat these as the first US pressings for pricing purposes.

    I used to have hundreds of Blue Notes (NM original pressings on most 4000 series that I ever wanted) and it is my humble opinion (shared by many many BN collectors) that the Japanese Kings will sound as good, if not better, than the originals in most cases. My advice (unless you are collecting for collection value, as opposed to the sound) would be to look for the Japanese Kings at a fraction of the price (on some common titles, the price is almost the same but on the rarer titles, the price difference could be as much as 1/10 or more).

    From a variety of view points, the Blue Notes are a true US national treasure that should be enjoyed by the people (although today it seems that the people of the rest of the world are enjoying this more than the people of this country, ugh!).
    jasonsouza77 likes this.
  9. Your passion of the King pressings and Blue Note in general is inspiring.

    Against my better judgement (from a condition POV), I bought a Horace Silver - Song for my father (NY pressing) in "G" condition a week back ($3 from a yard sale). Sounds so crackly and distorted that the French DMM reissue I have is preferrable.

    As soon as I get back in the black, I plan on seeking out the King pressings. But in the meantime, I'll be cleaning vintage discards.
  10. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict Thread Starter

    Hi, David.

    A large majority of the Japanese King Blue Notes on eBay is offered by Japanese sellers and the shipping charge can discourage US bidders.

    There are four (but now only three, as one of them no longer sells on eBay) Japanese sellers whom I trust implicitly when it comes to Japanese reissues of 50's/60's US Jazz. And one of them (who has two eBay seller IDs) typically grades them "Very Good" but basically they are between VG+ and NM. That seller also has a grade of "Excellent" but for whatever reason, that seller typically grades the Classical and Jazz records as "Very Good", even for NM ones. As a result, I have bought won many Japanese King Blue Notes from that seller for $10 each. I usually wait until I have won 5 records from that seller for payment and as a result, I average about $4 for each record for shipping. I would imagine that you should be able to win Song for My Father for $20 or less, if you just wait for it.

    Also, when I see some on eBay by my fave Japanese sellers, I will send you a PM.
  11. Good strategy. Yes, the shipping from Japan is a disincentive. I love receiving packages from Japan with the Japanese script/characters - feels so exotic.

    Thanks. Do let me know which sellers you recommend. I'll also plug in a few email searches.

    FYI: I ended up getting past the crackles and into the music on my US pressing. Sometimes takes the first song to let go of the disappointment, and often the outer tracks are the worst damaged.
  12. Kent Teffeteller

    Kent Teffeteller New Member

    Athens, TN
    Hi davidpoole,

    I have a Division Of Liberty pressing of "Song For My Father" It is superb quality and is a tube cut RVG at that. These usually can be had for less than $20 in nice shape when found. This is worth getting. I think Division Of Liberty and early UA copies are nice alternatives to pricey originals and are usually identical sonically!
  13. OE3

    OE3 Forum Resident

    Sealed Father

    hi kent:
    i just bought a SEALED Song For My Father last night. 'A Product of Liberty Records' on the top left of the back sleeve. thick pressing. i'm expecting a 'Van Gelder' stamp in the dead wax when i open it, but this one is a rare title i'm filing away for the proverbial 'rainy day'. it ran me 25 bones, but i figured a used copy wouldn't be much less. one of my favorite Blue Note sessions! :)
  14. DanG

    DanG On Green Dolphin Street

    Sung, thank you for posting this, it's the stuff I love to read. Label documentation/history fills in the blanks for me.

    I can't seem to find this, I followed the link above to check- do you know who the author is?

    I am fairly new to jazz, and to Blue Note. I have just two on vinyl, from the Manhattan reissues, Somethin' Else, and Song For My Father. The top end on SFMF makes this LP hard to listen to. I think I'll try the Top Ten reissue of this.

    I have two Blue Note CDs (really the novice!), an RVG Edition Soul Station, and Monk/Coltrane Carnegie Hall. I love the Monk/Coltrane CH.
  15. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict Thread Starter

    Hello Dan.

    I am glad to hear that another Forum member is becoming a fan of late 50's/60's US Jazz. :wave:

    Regarding the author of that wonderful article, I have no clue who wrote that. It was written several years ago and it has been on the internet for a while now without any credit for the author. Some of the "opinions" or "views" in the article most definitely echo what other audiophile/Blue Note collectors generally acknowledge. Although there are many exceptions, it is definitely safer to go with what is in the article.

    And regarding vinyl (and IMHO, one MUST hear the magic of Blue Note vinyl, whether a Rudy Van Gelder stamped pressing or a Japanese King pressing), try looking and holding out for a "van gelder" or "RVG" stamp in the dead wax of the record or a Japanese King pressing. If you do, it will be as if you were listening to the same title for the very first time (the difference and the sonic improvement will be that much) and you probably will be hooked. All these Blue Note junkies in this world must be addicted to something magical, right? :D

    Trust me on this one and start your journey through the world of Blue Note. You won't regret it (well ... your bank account may suffer).
    jasonsouza77 likes this.
  16. DanG

    DanG On Green Dolphin Street

    Hello Sung.

    My limited experience matches your recommendation. I have one RVG pressing, Bags Groove, the W. 50th St. yellow Prestige label. It's very impressive, the album finally got through to me. I'd previously only listened to the xrcd release, and I kept thinking, why all the hoopla about this album? The RVG vinyl was a revelation.

    So I think I'll just have to take your advice!
  17. I took a look at my local store. I think they've caught on and are pricing even the later issues at $20 and up. Darn. IIRC, it wasn't long ago when the Liberty etc pressings were still pretty inexpensive.

    I have Art Blakey's Freedom Rider on the Liberty (black on blue) label, Van Gelder-stamped, and it is a favorite.
  18. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict Thread Starter

    David, those Black/Blue Liberties were an audiophile fave among Blue Note collectors. Some of them will sound "better" than the blue/white Liberties, not because of the mastering but because SOME of the later blue/white Liberties were pressed on horrible thin vinyl (with "pinched" sound every now and then from the bad vinyl; that sound is like the sound when the needle moves out of the groove) or were not mastered by RVG at all (as indicated by the absence of his stamp in the dead wax). Think of them, sort of, like the 80's UK mono reissues of The Beatles. Great price and great sound!

    FYI (and it is not in the article that I quoted above in the first post), blue/white Liberties had THREE separate kinds. The first and the earliest runs were when Blue Note was first sold to Liberty. These had the thicker vinyl (similar to the New York, USA blue/white pressings) with a label that is identical to the NY, USA label except for the "A Division of Liberty". The label was "shiny" and "bright" blue/white and the blue ink looks like they were painted on (again, like the NY, USA label). ALL of these had the "van gelder" stamp in the dead wax. These sound identical to the NY, USA pressings.

    The second run (in my estimation) also had a thicker vinyl but the color of the label is a bit darker. The blue part is not the "cool" blue that you would see on NY, USA labels but a bit darker. Many of these were released in mono. These do NOT have "van gelder" stamp in the dead wax. These are hit-and-misses.

    The third run (in my estimation) was pressed on thin vinyl and the paper used for the label is more "papery" and not shiny or bright. As a result, the colors look a bit off-color. These do have "van gelder" on the dead wax.

    The second and third blue/white Liberties are hit-and-misses because of the problems I note above.

    I hope this helps.

    I can go on and on about Blue Notes but as I previously mentioned, the information above is more than sufficient for even the moderately serious and committed Blue Note collectors.
  19. Peter A

    Peter A Forum Resident

    I am afraid the given information is not very complete or reliable.

    For instance, the author does not distinguish the three varieties with the street address:
    - Blue Note Records - 47 West 63rd Street New York 23;
    - Blue Note Records - 47 West 63rd Street NYC;
    - Blue Note Records Inc. - 47 West 63rd Street NYC.
    Furthermore the West 61st Street address label definitely does NOT exist. Probably the author got this (wrong) information from the Neil Umphred Goldmine Jazz Record Guide. How could he claim then that all mentioned pressing varieties "are attested in my collection"?.

  20. That's great info. I saw a bunch yesterday, all $20 each, which seems steep. And no titles I was really excited about.
  21. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict Thread Starter

    That's too bad. I am sure you will find the ones you are looking for soon.
  22. Tjazz

    Tjazz Music is my Mistress

    What about the new Blue Notes LPs that sell for about $9?
  23. ashlee5

    ashlee5 Forum Resident

    These are Scorpio reissues that replicates the original releases exactly the same except for the trail groove information. In other words, these will become collectors' nightmare in 20-30 years.
  24. OE3

    OE3 Forum Resident

    wait a minute, are you saying the Scorpio reissues sound as good as the originals?
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